Okay, okay, I know it’s not even Halloween yet, but I’m feeling in the Christmas mood. The holiday season always inspires me to be hopeful and energized. That feeling of excitement arrived a bit early for me this year!
This logo in the left corner is an award I was honored to receive in Writer’s Digest’s annual writing competition for my short story “Nowhere, Man.” One of the reasons I’ve neglected my blog for so many months is that I’ve been focused like a maniac on improving the quality of my writing by creating shorter works of fiction (and a bit of non-fiction and poetry). This award was like receiving an early Christmas present. It’s gratifying to have my work recognized, and I sincerely hope to see more of these darlings in the future!
Delving into the world of literary short fiction has been an eye opening, educational, and sometimes frustrating experience. On the positive side, the satisfaction derived from completing a project comes much more often than with novel writing. A novel can take me up to a year or more to complete. On the negative side, the rejections also arrive much more often. One of my workshop instructors noted that the odds of having a short story published in a literary magazine are lower than the odds of getting into Harvard. As daunting as that statistic sounds, the worst part for me is actually having to develop new project ideas at a dizzying pace. Finish one story and bam! gotta start another one. All my old characters and the worlds I created must be abandoned for new ones, and just when I was getting to know them. But the next tale is always waiting to be spun.
I learned something valuable about myself during this process: While I enjoy writing short stories, and will always have one or two in the works, my temperament is better suited to long term projects (novels and series). I like getting up each morning and knowing exactly what I’m going to write that day. It may not always come out precisely as I intended when I sat down, but at least I know what the chapter is supposed to be about. And I like making friends with my characters and having them in my life for more than a few weeks at a time.
Consequently, I’m working on getting back to my roots and developing ideas for a new series (Yay!). I’m also compiling a collection of some of my short stories, which I hope to publish around the first of the year, while continuing to submit my already completed stories to contests and publications.
I regret I’ve been so absorbed in other projects that I haven’t updated my blog more frequently and haven’t posted many (read: any) book reviews lately, but I intend to be more diligent about that. Two non-fiction books I’ve read recently and highly recommend are:
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Can’t say enough about this wonderful book and its healthy approach to living the creative life. It’ll make you feel good about yourself and whatever creative outlet you choose to pursue. I listened to the audio book narrated by the author and found it absorbing and entertaining throughout.
How to Write Short, Word Craft for Fast Times, by Roy Peter Clark. Roy Clark is a real smart guy when it comes to the art of writing, and I love all of his books, but this one is my favorite. Not just for writers, it has practical advice for everyone on how to write shorter and crisper, whether posting a tweet, or undertaking the great American novel.
*On my birthday my amazing daughter gave me Joni Mitchell The Complete Poems and Lyrics. I’d sleep with this awesome book under my pillow if I thought some of Joni’s creativity could transfer to me by osmosis! You may recognize the title of this post from one of her songs.